This past Thursday night saw 5 Napkin Burger host their first Beer, Bourbon & Burgers Festival at the 404 Event Space on 10th Avenue in Midtown.  With VIP ticket holders allowed entry an hour earlier than General Admission’ers they were looking forward to eating and drinking sooner, rather than later. Well, at least they got to drink sooner, as the first food trays didn’t appear until 20 minutes into that early hour. Luckily they were also given a free 5 Napkin’s growler, with an added 1/2 first fill-up coupon, for their ticket bump-up purchase.

Entering the space, just past the check-in desk, one could see a table full of prizes for people to purchase raffle tickets in hopes of winning an assortment of donated goodies with all raffle proceeds going to Sandy relief efforts – a nice touch. A bit past there you could see various tables with either beer or bourbon being poured. Yum yum, give me some. My photographer focused on the bourbons while I shot straight to the beers, as I was told that some of the breweries would have some special pourings during this first VIP hour.

Four Roses Bourbon had three different bottles Yellow, Single Batch and Single Barrel, each of which each had a different proof level, 80, 90 and 100 respectively. They were all very smooth and had a great finish like good bourbon should but both of our favorites was the Single Barrel. As for my first beers I went over to the Coney Island table, aka Shmaltz Brewing Company, for their 10% Human Blockhead Doppelbock and Kelso for their brand new 11.5% Rye-Aged Industrial, a double IPA and their, also brand new, 7% Rye-Aged Porter.  Definitely a fan of the Kelso pours, potent and smooth.

Ok, time for some food, finally.  Fighting through the ravenous crowds, foreshadowing a theme, to try to get some of the passed foods, we came across both the Veggie Burger Sliders as well as the Turkey Banh Mi Sliders. Not too badn but still waiting to be amazed by the food. Next out of the kitchen were Lamb Kofta Skewers with Tahini, Tuna Tataki Wontons.  Now that’s what I’m takin’ bout – yum! Later on I found some Beer-Battered Corn Dogs with Cheddar & Ale Fondue, Bourbon Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktails and Spicy Pimento Cheese Tots with Stout Mustard Sauce, but none of those were worth the effort it took to track them down in the masses of hungry VIPers.

Even later, an ACTUAL meat burger, the 5 Napkin Burger Slider which had gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and a rosemary aioli on top was visible… and then down our throats. The masses were definitely becoming restless as food trays were entering the rooms at a much too slow pace and being devoured immediately by the pouncing crowds. Some people were even heard saying that they wanted to leave because they were still hungry, but they had bought raffle tickets so they felt stuck.


Back to the drinking. Boston Beer Company Sam Adams poured a delicious 10% New World Tripel from their Barrel Room Collection. Founders  finally got their lines working and the Breakfast Stout was flowing.  I knew that the VIP hour would have a much better beer selection than the remaining portion of the night so I was definitely leaning on them early on with the notion that I would be switching to the bourbons later on, though the keg of Breakfast Stout got tapped so late that there was plenty of it remaining all night long.  Other breweries in the house were Connecticut’s Thomas Hooker, Colorado’s Tommyknocker, Plzeňský Prazdroj, known better by its German name Pilsner Urquell, and Blue Moon, which is Coors in disguise.

On the other side of the ABV scale, the much higher one that is, some 92 proof Heaven Hills Distillery John. E. Fitzgerald Larceny was sampled. It had a great start, smooth middle and a sharp finish.  Follow that up with some Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, and it’s time for dessert! The Flourless Chocolate Cake with bourbon syrup and a touch of whipped cream was on my thumbs-up list, however, my photographer thought it was a bit dry on her lips. The other dessert was a play off a root beer float as the mini Vanilla Porter Shake was actually some vanilla ice cream floating on a dark porter beer and was seriously yummy! Once the raffle was over the room cleared out quick . Maybe with some people still thinking about what they wanted to eat, however, I was completely stuffed.

– Mike J

Photos via 5 Napkin Burger and by Socially Superlative